Kite Runner suspended after a complaint- removes freedom to read 

As a librarian, it is always concerning to read about books being banned. The larger implications created when we narrow the opportunities to read, think, share and learn, are trouble for society. Diversity in our culture builds understanding. The diversity of ideas in books should be a reflection of our reality. Constricting access to ideas and authorship doesn’t protect our children but rather put them at risk. Loss of empathy, hate or radicalization  is a likely result. The current discord and misinformation about race and theology in the Muslem community is an example. We need more knowledge and empathy not less. Books, especially well crafted literature, like Hussein’s Kite Runner, provide potential for discourse and freedom of expression. 

Many classrooms around the world use the Kite Runner or provide copies in their libraries. Most schools use this title with Grade 12s. Like many situations, one needs to know your students, parent expectations and teaching context. Just banning books is an inferior way to handle content. 

Forcing every student in the class requires extra vigilance and planning. Like all literature? Parent opt-out seems a prudent option. A concern is that selections and management of interests and permissions could become a handicap. Small group reading and study certainly assists in the effort. Teacher due diligence and planning usually can manage concerns.

Book themes and storytelling have literary and student development merits. In the hands of professionals, like the classroom teacher and collaboration with the teacher-librarian, books provide powerful learning opportunities at any age.  When sensitive or somewhat disturbing content arises, hiding behind banning, only degrades empathy, insight and language skills. 

Using age appropriate material however troubling the content may appear, is just good teaching practice. People take children to movies that may be inappropriate. We trust parents judgement. We force students into textbooks, curriculum and programs, trusting the professionals to engage material wisely. Literature should be know different. 

-Smith, teacher-librarian

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